Sri Lankan Stories

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Sigiriya Rock

Sri Lankan sites – Sigiriya Rock

Visiting the very ancient Sri Lankan site, Sigiriya Rock is a must do when you visit this special island. It is an enormous granite rock upon which once lived an ancient civilisation. A civilisation contemporary the ancient Romans.
They lived at the bottom of the where they had swimming pools and water gardens. Half way up the rock was where they had thrones and meetings. And they lived right on the top of it where they had more swimming pools and the king summarily dished out the odd death sentence. You can imagine what this involved.
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Cave painting cuties

Climb to the top of the rock

If you like hundreds of small steep slippery steps, broken metal hand rails and have a head for heights you will enjoy the hike to the very top. A tall thin Russian model in front of us on the towering trek, skips right up to the top in her five inch shoes without incident. She stops to pose provocatively for her boyfriend’s pictures at every precarious level.
I made it to the lion’s paws- it’s head fell off some time ago – and decided that was high enough. It is a stunning view from the top indeed, but I’m always half way up somewhere before I remember I don’t like heights. The same thing happened at Chitzen Itza…
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Paws for thought

The rock was really a fortress. All ancient civilisations were essentially about conflict and survival. A giant boulder still remains propped up on some smaller boulders right at the top. It is still poised ready to roll over the precipice onto any intruders.

They never got to roll that boulder onto anyone though, as it’s probable malaria got them all first. Or it could have been the killer wasps that finished them off..

I retired to the hotel for an Ayurvedic (organic) facial. It seemed to involve covering my face with some sort of concoction not unlike someTesco spicy hummous.  Leaving me for twenty minutes meant that the mosquitos made a veritable meal of me. My visage looked slightly paler at the end of the process, but my arms now had the appearance of a pepperoni pizza.

Sri Lankan Elephant Orphange

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Elephant bath time

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is a huge attraction here. Sri Lanka is one of the last homes of the beautiful Asian elephant. This magnificent beast is now endangered in the wild due to loss of habitat and poaching.

Pinnawalla has the largest herd of captive elephants in the world. There were 85 of them when I visited spanning three generations. Babies found wandering in the forest separated from their mothers are often found in a poor state. This happened to the sanctuary’s two youngest ellies, Pinala and Nurwala. They fell into irrigation ditches and their mothers had been unable to help them out.

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Little Ellies

At just three and six moths old, they are hairy as coconuts. They are getting much stronger now, having milk bottle fed to them every three hours and playing happily together. One of the forty six ‘mahouts’ at Pinnawalla proudly stated that he was now their ‘mum.’

Pinnewala was established in 1975 by the Sri Lanka Department of Wildlife Conservation and is now a huge tourist draw. People from all over the world come to watch the elephants parade down to the river twice a day for their bath.

Elephants love water and watching the ‘teenagers’ larking around and the littlest ones trying to dunk each other is a charming site. There is obvious affection between the refugees of this special man made herd. The elephants drape their trunks over each other and lean in for a trunk to trunk gossip.

A Sri Lankan jewel – Kandy

Kandy  was one of the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka. It is now the self proclaimed centre of Sri Lanka’s Cultural Heritage. It was expecting faded colonial charm but was greeted by the usual ramshackle collection of jerry-built breeze block buildings. They were selling the same lack lustre collection of goods that were available at every road side crossing.

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Awesome orchid

However, the botanical gardens is a genuine oasis here. It has retained a good deal of the order and attention to detail of its Victorian founders. the very same who gave us our own Kew Gardens. There was an exceptional display of tropical flora including an impressive collection of giant bamboo.  There is also a very beautiful Orchid collection. These delicate flowers always looks like an Alice in Wonderland creation to me.

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